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Harry Maguire exclusive: England defender on lessons learned and ambition to win

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“It would be mean absolutely everything…”

Harry Maguire replied with a smile when asked what potentially winning the Euros this summer would mean to him.

“We haven’t lifted a trophy in a long, long time – but we’ve been close.”

There are few players better placed than the Manchester United centre-back to reflect on England’s relative successes in recent tournaments under Gareth Southgate.

Maguire has been a pivotal figure in England’s last three tournaments in which they’ve reached a semi-final, final and quarter-final.

But rewind to 2018 ahead of the World Cup in Russia and this was a different England.

An England with no expectations, almost a joyful atmosphere in believing it would be another doomed tournament.

Maguire Has Been A Mainstay Under Gareth Southgate
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Maguire has been a mainstay under Gareth Southgate

“It was a new group in 2018,” Maguire said as he sat down with Sky Sports News.

“Gareth was at the start of building something – the expectation was probably just to get out of the group but we played really well in that tournament and we set a good foundation.

“It was a great time for me, a time where I probably moved up a level in terms of playing at the top level in football and it was an amazing time.”

England eventually lost to Croatia in the semi-finals but as Maguire alluded to, a creation of unfiltered optimism came from that competition and expectations around this England squad continued to grow.

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England’s Declan Rice says the squad is determined to go one further than their Euro 2020 final loss to Italy, and insists they’ll ‘do anything to win’ this summer.

Now they will go to Germany with an impressive run of tournament performances behind them, with a manager the players undoubtedly trust, while also embracing the tag of being one of the strongest teams in the competition.

Maguire explained: “He did a lot of little things, he knew how important it was to bring the group together, make everyone enjoy the camps, make everyone want to play for their country – and of course that’s the way it should be.

“It’s a good time to be an England player, we feel we’re in a good moment and it’s a tournament I’m looking forward to – we’re going there to win.”

Maguire: Tournament football is about ‘moments’

Harry Maguire Has Left The England Camp
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Maguire has proven to be reliable for England

England seem to have the basics to win the competition. The foundations have been built in previous tournaments under Southgate.

“It’s a good time to be an England player,” Maguire said. Clearly the atmosphere within the squad and the experiences they have shared in years gone by have gelled this group in a different way to England squads of the past.

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England manager Gareth Southgate believes Euro 2024 will be a tight tournament because every team has players that can win football matches.

However, if there is one blemish for this England side under Southgate – on the biggest of occasions, in the biggest encounters – they have fallen just short.

Empathy is there though for England – in the last three competitions, they have lost to the finalists (Croatia 2018, France 2022) or eventual winners (Italy 2021).

But if this England side are to create their own legacy and history – how can they provide a different outcome this time around compared to the previous gut-wrenching losses?

Harry Maguire Spoke To Sky Sports News As An Ambassador Of Statsports.
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Harry Maguire spoke to Sky Sports News as an ambassador of StatSports.

“I think all three of the games we’ve lost in those tournaments could have gone either way,” Maguire said.

“Playing a tournament is totally different to playing league football – it’s built on moments and you’ve got to make sure you’re there within the game to let the moments take over.

“That’s where your big players come to play and produce those magic moments.

“You just need to make sure you’re there to make it and perform on the day to give yourself an opportunity to go and win.”

Jude Bellingham and winning the Euros

Harry Maguire With Jude Bellingham During England Training On Thursday (Pa)
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Maguire with Jude Bellingham during England training

This England side have stars in abundance, whether it is the captain Harry Kane, the four-in-a-row Premier League winners Phil Foden and Kyle Walker or the young emerging talent of Kobbie Mainoo, who put a in a player-of-the-match performance in the FA Cup final.

But perhaps no England player has had a more impactful season on their club than Jude Bellingham.

It was expected that he would need time to settle at Real Madrid but he has became a pivotal figure at the Bernabeau, scoring 19 goals and providing six assists as they reclaimed the LaLiga title.

“Jude is an amazing player – a real big leader, a great personality and obviously very talented on the pitch,” Maguire said.

“I can’t speak highly enough of Jude, he came to England and I knew within one or two sessions how he’d go.

“I went back to my club and I told them all about him but he took a different path and he’s done really well for Real Madrid. I knew he would when he signed there and long may it continue.”

Bellingham’s statistics are pretty impressive for his first season at Real Madrid, and as Maguire is talking, he’s wearing one of the specialised StatSports vests which collect a huge amount of data to monitor training performance and workload.

1717138974 426 Harry Maguire Exclusive England Defender On Lessons Learned And Ambition

I can’t speak highly enough of Jude, he came to England and I knew within one or two sessions how he’d go.

Maguire on Bellingham impact

With statistics becoming an increasingly greater part of football, one wonders how much a footballer pays attention to them.

Maguire said: “Yeah, especially over recent years, football is about stats.

“I think you see it about running stats – every football club analyses it to the smallest details now – so it’s a massive part of the game.

“I think you can see a correlation to how much you run in the games you win, especially with us at Manchester United. Every football club will be monitoring it to maximise your performance.”

Harry Maguire spoke to Sky Sports News in his role as an ambassador for GPS performance data company StatSports.

England’s fixtures before Euro 2024

Monday June 3: England vs Bosnia and Herzegovina – kick-off 7.45pm

Friday June 7: England vs Iceland – kick-off 7.45pm

England’s Euro 2024 fixtures

Sunday June 16 – Group C: Serbia vs England (Arena AufSchalke, Gelsenkirchen – kick-off 8pm UK time)

Thursday June 20 – Group C: Denmark vs England (Waldstadion, Frankfurt – kick-off 5pm UK time)

Tuesday June 25 – Group C: England vs Slovenia (RheinEnergieStadion, Cologne – kick-off 8pm UK time)

Euro 2024 key dates

June 14, 2024: Euro 2024 opening game, Allianz Arena (Munich)
June 30 – July 2: Round of 16
July 5-6: Quarter-finals
July 9-10, 2024: Semi-finals
July 14, 2024: Euro 2024 final, Olympic Stadium (Berlin)